It Was the ’90s. And Kate Spade’s Bag Was It.

It Was the ’90s. And Kate Spade’s Bag Was It.

The good girls got them for their bat mitzvahs; the bad girls swiped them from Barneys, swishing through the revolving doors with the illicit merchandise tucked inside their own Kate Spade bags. Girls who did not have them pined for them; not wanting one was a statement in itself — carrying, say, a Manhattan Portage bag instead, declared you were “alternative.”

Priced between $150 and $450 in the 1990s, they were aspirational, but attainable for some city kids — if you hoarded your babysitting pennies, said Carey Shuffman, 27, who attended the private Brearley School. “You could have something that a grown-up had, and look sophisticated. But it wasn’t inappropriate or too adult, the way that walking down the street with a Burberry tote would be,” she said.

Ms. Shuffman, who works in finance, recalled browsing the bags at Bloomingdale’s on Lexington Avenue with her mother at the height of the craze. “There could be a ton of other girls like you, who would have saved their allowance and their babysitting money, or their bat mitzvah money,” she said. “And there was also a woman you could look up to, in a suit and heels, buying one for themselves for work.”

According to the New York Police Department, Ms. Spade, 55, was discovered unresponsive at her apartment on Tuesday; she had hanged herself in her bedroom. In recent years she and her husband, Andy Spade, had devoted themselves to philanthropy, and had recently launched a new label.

For Annunziata Sahid, who grew up on the Upper East Side and attended the Trinity School in the ’90s, what began as a love for her black nylon tote, morphed into something more as Ms. Spade became a small fashion empire, eventually selling her company to the Neiman Marcus Group in 1999. “Every young girl who carried a Kate Spade bag looked up to her and wondered: ‘Maybe I could be a Kate Spade too,’” Ms. Sahid said.

Credit: It Was the ’90s. And Kate Spade’s Bag Was It.